The Souvenir: A Secret Baby Romance- Emma Nichols

I genuinely did not know what to expect when I began reading this book. I had downloaded multiple titles from the kindle store, and couldn’t remember which blurb corresponded to which book when it came to reading them.

After a few pages, I expected it to be another of the many (slightly disappointing) samey romances that are to be found everywhere on the Kindle store, especially on the ‘free’ book list. The narrative seemed a very clichéd, typical not-quite-love story…but I persevered. And I am actually read glad that I did! I imagined the whole story to follow the bickering of Wren and Brady post breakup, and that Brad would continue promising to change with very little proof of doing so. What actually happened was that, the further I read, the more I actually wanted to read, as I realised that it wasn’t what I had first imagined. I think Nichols’ very colloquial, friendly writing style helped with this, and meant that reading, in spite of my initial lack of interest, wasn’t a chore.

I have to admit that, at the start, I didn’t really like either of the characters. Obviously, I disapproved of Brady for cheating on the woman he claimed to love, but for some reason, I found Wren’s response annoying, meaning I didn’t actually feel any sympathy for her. However, after a few chapters, I found myself empathising with Brady, and actually wanted Wren to forgive him. I think the dual narration helped with this, as it allowed for me to understand both sides of the story, meaning I could appreciate why both characters reacted in certain ways- for example when Wren saw Brady with Paige again, and why Brady believed that Trey and Wren were now together. The dual narrative also meant that both characters had fully-developed voices, as they didn’t have anyone else speaking for them, which I think was important in this book.

It got to the point that, I wasn’t just interested in the story, I actually started to care what was going to happen next to the characters, and found myself thinking about it when I wasn’t reading. Although, having said this, once the book did have my full attention, it was incredibly easy to see where the narrative was going- which meant that the ending was of no surprise. But, I do want to reiterate that this didn’t stop me from wanting to find out how it got to the point that I knew it would eventually reach.

The book was short, which was definitely a positive here. Any longer, and the narrative would have become dragged out, possibly making it more clichéd, and less enjoyable. Also, as I always say, the short chapters were also appreciated, as it allowed for ‘easy access’ to the story (i.e. just five minutes of reading here and there).  However, in this case, the short chapters also meant that I didn’t get lost in the dual narrative, because I was always reminded from whose point of view I was reading.

Overall, I would definitely recommend  The Souvenir: A Secret Baby Romance to anyone who is looking for a good, light-hearted and easy read. In spite of its simplicity, it left me feeling satisfied- which is an important trait in a book, if you ask me!

Le Diable Au Corps- Raymond Radiguet

I received this book as a Christmas present from my boyfriend. A brave move on his behalf, if you ask me as choosing a book for someone is never easy, especially when you’re branching into literature of a language that you don’t speak. However, he did pretty well, considering the book fits three categories of things I like: romance, war and french.  I had never heard of this book before, nor had I heard the author mentioned, so I was intrigued to get stuck in.

 

I have to admit I was a little confused when I first began reading. For some reason, I had expected the narrator to be Marthe, who is mentioned in the blurb, and out of a lack of concentration, it had taken me a few pages to realise that it was actually Francois.  However, once I had actually realised who it was narrating the events, I could start to form opinions on the characters.

I actually found Francois, the narrator a little irritating, which is, in some ways, a credit to Radiguet. He did truly appear like a lovesick teenage boy, whose youth was made clear through his neediness and naivety. I suppose that, given the circumstances of his love affair, one could hardly blame him for seeming emotional and needy- but that didn’t make it any less annoying, especially for the first part of the narrative.  Having said this, Marthe was hardly a likeable character. She appeared to have no sort of conscience, and her selfishness was far too much to be able to overlook or excuse for any reason.

It was strange to read a book and not identify, or take a liking to, either character. I would say that that as the narrative progressed, I did become more tolerant of Francois, but perhaps more out of dislike for Marthe other than anything else. Even though the main turning point of the narrative, Marthe’s discovery that she is pregnant, is a necessary step in order to show each character’s ability to develop, it was a bit of a cliché problem in an illegitimate love affair. Keeping the novel’s age in mind, however, I suppose that it would have been less of a cliché, and more of a scandal.

Something I did like about the book was that it was very easy to read. As I have mentioned before, I appreciate a book with short chapters as it means I can dip in and out of the book, reading it when I have a spare five minutes, meaning I can finish it sooner than if I had to dedicate a large chunk of time each time I want to read! Also, in spite of the fact that I didn’t necessarily like the narrator, I did find Radiguet’s writing style very clear, which mean that I didn’t have to struggle with unravelling too much french syntax, which can often be a problem.

Even though I didn’t like either of the main characters, I would actually recommend Le Diable Au Corps for that very reason. It was the first time I have read a novel and this been the case, and it was actually quite refreshing. I also think that the novel would also be a good starting point for someone who wants to read more french literature, as the straightforward narrative and the author’s clear writing style, as well as the short chapters, means that it is not a challenging read.

After You- Jojo Moyes

Even though I hadn’t read the prequel to After You, I had thoroughly enjoyed it in its film version, which meant that when my mum offered this book to me when she had finished, I snapped it up. And as I had expected, the book kept me interested the entire way through.

I think it did help that, having seen the prequel on screen, I already had a good idea of the how Louisa Clark (the main character) and her family worked as characters, and the dynamic between them. This means that I didn’t have to spend any time getting to know the characters or their situations, allowing me to just ‘get on’ with enjoying the narrative.

I liked how Moyes continued straight onto the narrative of this separate story, spending very little time referencing back to what happened in the characters’ pasts. Admittedly, this would make it difficult for anyone who wasn’t familiar with the prequel to fully understand, but I do think that most people reading this would choose to do so because of the prequel.

Louisa Clark is the perfect protagonist: the girl who wants to move on, and is trying, but is evidently terrified. Hopeless at most things, yet confident in who she is as a person, and her intelligence shines through in her wit and humour. It was also great to see how she had developed as a person from when Will was alive, and how Lily’s character meant that, in a strange and complicated way, she got to continue her relationship with Will, to the point that they had not able to reach before his death. She, in a way, got to become the mother of his child- and it was interesting to see how she reacted to such situation.

In fact, it seemed that, instead of Lily acting as a painful reminder of Will that dragged Louisa back to the state of intense grieving just after his death, she actually helped her to move on from him. All the time that I could see Louisa changing and transforming, I felt almost proud of her- as if I knew her.

I think the fact that no one, unless those heartbreakingly unlucky enough to have experienced it, can begin to imagine how it must feel to lose the person you love through their own doing, means that readers sympathise even more with Louisa as a character. This was certainly the case for me. I don’t even want to imagine the reality of such a terrible situation, meaning I wanted, more than anything, for her to come out of it a stronger person- her full personality still intact.

The great thing about After You is that it’s just the right cocktail of sadness, hope and humour that makes you want to read it more. I was always ready to turn the next page, and move onto the next chapter- disappointed when I didn’t have enough time to do so. As if 400 pages of the narrative weren’t enough, I found myself wishing the story continued- not because I didn’t feel it had reached a good enough conclusion, but because I didn’t want to leave Louisa Clark as a character.

I thoroughly recommend this book to anyone- whether you have read the prequel, or just seen the film. Familiarise yourself with the prequel and get stuck in. It is truly worth it.

 

 

 

 

The Soul Summoner- Elicia Hyder

I chose this book due to the fact that it didn’t appear to fall into a singular genre, but rather a mix of a few of my favourites: mystery, paranormal, drama and romance. Its great Amazon review convinced me that I would find the narrative interesting, and that I would be able to identify with Jordan Sloan as a main character. I liked the idea that the police may make use of someone with spiritual connections to help solve a serial killing inquiry, rather than relying on scientific and factual evidence, as it could be a new way of solving crimes for the future. However, it was quite refreshing to see Sloan’s internal struggle as to whether or not she should actually get involved with the case, as past books featuring any kind of ‘superpowers’ often featured an overly-confident gifted character.

The idea of the book was interesting: as someone who has always been on the fence regarding the truth behind psychics, I was intrigued to read a book where the narrative was based on the existence of one. It was interesting to see how Jordan Sloan’s soul-reading abilities also impacted her romantic-life. In fact, I think the sort of love triangle within the narrative helped prevent the book from becoming too unbelievable and dramatic- it kept the narrative grounded in the real, tangible world, and it definitely added another layer of action to the narrative, rather than letting it get bogged down in paranormal mystery solving.

The overall tone of the book was definitely a positive, and made the book an easy read. Sloan was incredibly open and welcoming as a narrator, and the fact that she recognised her ‘gift’ as a controversial subject showed that she was down-to-earth and human- important characteristics for a protagonist. In spite of the book’s evidently serious and dark undertones, the vibrancy of the characters’ voices and personalities kept it alive and added a dash of humour in the parts that it needed it most.

While I can’t say I was exactly ‘hooked’ to the narrative from the moment I started reading, I will admit that I became more invested and eager to find out what would happen next as it progressed. However, I suppose that partly comes from the fact that I began to know and care about the characters more, meaning I cared about what may happen to them. As a result of this, I would recommend this book- the first in Hyder’s series. It simply requires an open-minded reader and someone who is willing to remain patient for a few pages before the real action of the story begins to unfold.